Mahaplag News, San Vicente — At 45 years old, Genna Cabalo has gone through almost all the rigors of life: she married early, worked for a long time as a saleslady, survived an operation, and lived to succeed where most would easily start but fail: operating a roadside ‘bahay kubo’ sari-sari store.
Genna’s Store started with a mere P1,000.00 worth of start-up capital which she and her husband, Toto, used first to sell gasoline, diesel and kerosene in soft drink bottles along the highway. The loan was from Ongay Felipa, her husband’s grandmother.
After only a year of selling fuel products, the couple took a ‘business risk’ and accepted money worth P3,000.00 from a loan shark. This small amount they used to buy and sell some basic groceries starting with canned goods, candies, noodles, ‘tuba’, candles, matches, and soft drinks. The couple did not have any other source of income other than Toto getting irregular work as a carpenter and construction worker.
“To succeed with a sari-sari located in an area where sari-sari stores are a cottage industry of sorts you need to wake up early to open your store ahead of the competition”, said Genna. This the couple did. At 4:00 o’clock in the morning, the couple would already be up and about their small business, with Genna still having to cook breakfast for their two small children who would later walk to school.
As the years passed, the couple had to endure so many types of customers — some taking out small “vale’s” that would never be paid for, usually by relatives and friends living nearby. ‘Utang lipay, bayad likay’, as Toto would put it.
Still they make it a point to do their store duties with a happy disposition. “Whatever your personal problems, always smile to your customers and treat them nicely so that they will feel good about buying your goods”, said Toto. “The sari-sari store operator will do well stretching his patience even to those who have not paid their dues”, adds Genna.
“The other secret in operating a sari-sari store is always getting new stocks and not placing too much “patong” (profit margin) on your goods”, explains Genna.
Here is the universal wisdom usually advised that successful small business entrepreneurs like Toto and Genna subscribe to: be happy with whatever work you do, be industrious, be patient, and persevere.
Most of all “pray and give time to Daddy God, share blessings to the church through offerings”, said Genna.
Through their small sari-sari store, Genna and Toto have been able to send their daughter through college, Jonamel, who graduated with honors and a degree in Chemical Engineering. Their youngest son, Janel, will enter college with a scholarship from the Department Of Science and Technology (DOST).